Friday, July 12th, 2013

NYC High Schools Not Just For Sexting

This is a super-intense article about Plan B in New York City schools, and fascinating:

A 17-year-old from Fort Greene, Brooklyn, called the school nurse at Lincoln “my new grandma.” She said she had taken Plan B “less than five times” this year. She did not give her parents the opt-out form. She said she had become pregnant twice, after her mother had taken her birth control away. “She’s the reason I got pregnant,” the girl said.

And here's a really awesome public health quote, when you consider the essence of providing public health services is meeting people where they are:

“Most teens go to school,” Deborah Kaplan, the department’s assistant commissioner for maternal, infant and reproductive health, said, explaining the city’s decision to make Plan B available in schools, as part of a bigger sex education campaign.

5500 girls received free Plan B in the 2011-2012 school year. You should be advised, as usual, not to read (most) of the comments, for the obvious reasons.

6 Comments / Post A Comment

Graypeep (#245,610)

Why are these conversations overwhelmingly about a girl's responsibility? My friend is a doctor and she sees girls all day who say they can't get the boys to wear condoms. If we talk about unintended consequences of birth control and emergency contraception being increasingly available, we need to talk about the effect on many boys and men of diminishing their sense of responsibility for their sexual actions. Most boys don't know they can get prescriptions for condoms. We should really put more effort into getting them to step up the effort instead of funneling all our attention into teenage girls.

C_Webb (#855)

@Graypeep While I'm all for more shared responsibility, since when do condoms require a prescription? I believe they are given out for free in these schools as well.

Graypeep (#245,610)

@C_Webb No they aren't required. I meant getting a prescription is another way to get condoms. Not all schools offer them for free (and like the girl in the article says "school is not all year round") and many insurance plans have little or no copay for condom prescriptions. It also allows purchases to be more discreet.

Multiphasic (#411)

@Graypeep This is not quite as direct a question as it sounds. Why aren't b/c efforts and sexual health resources directed more at boys? This is a major issue in public health, actually, that a number of reproductive health researchers and wonks are gunning at.

There are two main reasons, sexism and economy. The sexism comes from the idea that culturally, boys have never really been expected to look after their partners' sexual health, nor to approach sex with anything resembling "guilt" or "responsibility". This bleeds into the sex ed curriculum; when male sexual health is taught in schools, it's not really taught with an idea of direct consequences to the self (such as "you might become a father which is a really important thing," and, "whether or not it is stated, you have some level of olbigation to your partner"), only physical health repercussions (STDs, primarily). Female sexual health is taught with a shitload of personal-emotional-health caveats (emotional attachment, pregnancy, the meaningfulness of it all)–and worse, these can be exaggerated for the women, making it all seem like a load of bullshit.

The economy is more directly the public health folks' fault. The old thinking was, if you want to prevent pregnancy on a limited budget, you concentrate your efforts. Since it takes two people to make a baby, you only need intervene with half of them to prevent one. Concentrate your resources and you maximize your success–and since a woman can directly influence the outcome of her uterus in a way a man can't, it makes the most sense to concentrate on women.* The problem with this is, you end up giving a de facto pass to the men, since you haven't really made them a priority nor made sure to teach them anything useful–meaning especially at an age before they've had life-learning, even if they want to be generally good, supportive partners they are completely under-equipped, and if they weren't so inclined they've had no countervailing push.

If this is really of interest to you, look at Arik Marcell's work at Hopkins for a lot of policy-oriented investigation into sex discrepancies in adolescent health.

*But here, too, don't discount latent paternalism. Concentrate on the woman 'cause they need the most help, the poor things, etc.

KenWheaton (#401)

“She’s the reason I got pregnant,” the girl said. … Looks like the biology classes aren't working out.

Braeak (#245,633)

See also the cancer virus vaccine
Boys should be required to get it

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